Co-sleeping with a baby is a question of parenting that does not have a clear answer. Both specialists, and the older generation, and young parents have different opinions on this matter, and often directly opposite. The conflict of opinions can even be within the same family. So what to do: should the child sleep in the parents’ bed or immediately get used to his cradle? And if sleep, then how and until what age? A reasonable choice can be made on the basis of a comprehensive study of the topic and your own decision. Everything will have to be taken into account: the opinions of specialists, personal views on sleep hygiene, the convenience of adults, the individual characteristics of the child, the possibilities of organizing sleep. It is likely that before the correct solution is developed, you will have to go through a couple of test periods. All this is normal. We will talk about the existing arguments “for” and “against”. Read what leading experts think about co-sleeping (spoiler: Benjamin Spock ended up changing his mind).
Child and parents in the same bed: arguments against
Opponents of co-sleeping with a baby primarily point out the disadvantages of such a practice for parents. Sleep hygiene is disturbed, we have to remember that there is a third member of the family in bed, small and helpless, we have to resolve issues of adult intimacy in a new format. And in the future, you will have to wean the child from the parent’s bedroom.
Sleeping with a baby is really dangerous for the baby. Although cases of children being “slept” date back more to past centuries, and it is not entirely clear which was more common: deaths among newborns due to very tired adults and other children in bed, or criminal methods of getting rid of “Extra Mouth” Today, pediatricians categorically object to co-sleeping with a child if one of the parents smokes, even occasionally uses alcohol, drugs that affect sleep, drugs, or is characterized by sleep disorders with motor activity, pronounced episodes of apnea, etc. In such cases, it is better don’t take risks.
Dr. Benjamin Spock, a popular pediatrician from the United States in our country, during the main period of his career protested against children in the parents’ bed, allowing only the baby’s crib in the parents’ bedroom until the age of 6 months. After six months, according to Spock, the baby moved out with a bed in a separate bedroom. Among the arguments, he used the danger to the life of the child, which adults can crush, the unhygienic bed, the difficulty with weaning in the future. However, towards the end of his active career, Spock, himself a father of many children, changed his mind on many issues of raising children, including stopping protesting babies in their parents’ beds.
Toddler in adult bed: arguments for
There are many arguments in support of co-sleeping. And supporters of such nights point out that all family members benefit.
Pros for the child: in the first year of life, the baby especially needs his mother. This is a period of adaptation to life outside the mother’s womb, to a new unfamiliar world, and the mother nearby gives him a sense of security, providing the basic need of the child. Many pediatricians and child psychologists are sure that such a dream helps the personality develop harmoniously, arguing only about the age of “resettlement” from bed.
Pros for mother and child: the most basic — there is no need to “sleep half-heartedly”, jump up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, and then return to bed. If in the first weeks, against the background of a hormonal rise and euphoria after childbirth, many mothers believe that night feedings are not a problem, then fatigue and lack of sleep accumulate later. This is a direct path to physical and emotional health disorders, up to episodes of confusion and depression. When breastfeeding, co-sleeping helps to maintain lactation, as the production of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for the amount of milk, is stimulated by morning attachments between 4 and 7 in the morning.
Peaceful sleep for the whole family: although any healthy baby will inevitably cry at night, but if the mother is nearby, then crying ends much faster even in the case of colic and teething. Less screaming means more sleep for everyone in the house.
Less motion sickness: during pregnancy, the baby gets used to feeling the mother literally “at hand”. And it is not easy to wean from this feeling of calm and security: some children categorically refuse separate beds, falling asleep only in their arms and waking up again at the moment of putting them to bed.
Health Benefits for Baby: Babies who sleep with their parents are less responsive to external and internal stimuli, from colic to sickness. Less worry ensures faster recovery. This is especially important for babies who were born prematurely, have developmental delays, were injured in childbirth.
According to pediatrician Nils Bergman, co-sleeping with a baby up to 3 years old helps him fully develop and in the future it is easier to interact with the outside world and establish social ties. E. O. Komarovsky supports this opinion, with the exception of age limits. The doctor believes that you can sleep together as much as is convenient for all family members.
Organization of joint sleep: how and how much
Age is the main “stumbling block” in the opinions of medical professionals. There are terms of 1 year, 3 years, all positions have their own arguments. Child psychologists are more unanimous and believe that it is normal to sleep together until the age of 5–7 if the child is healthy and not in a stressful situation.
It is also necessary to organize a joint dream according to the rules: the child must have a dense mattress, not a soft feather bed or sagging springs, a separate diaper or sheet, his own light blanket. Pillows are not required for children under two years of age. It is better to lay the baby not between adults, but on the one hand, optimally — next to the mother.
One of the best co-sleeping options is a crib that slides up or a special crib that is attached to an adult’s bed. You can cover it from the light of a night lamp or TV, cover it with separate children’s underwear and not worry that the baby will fall. This ensures all the conditions for the child, safety in a separate sleeping place, and at the same time, the parents are very close.